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Back to Basics: Building Blocks of Design-thinking

Theo Forbath, Vice President, Digital Transformation, Cognizant Digital Works, and Kipp Lynch, AVP, UX Research and Design, Cognizant Digital Works | July 11, 2016
As we move full-speed into a world where companies must design congruent branded experiences across both their physical and digital channels, this approach will be critical to defining the future customer experience and engagement strategies.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

It is not hard to imagine what the world will be like in just a few years once you've been to Disney World. Consider The Walt Disney Co.'s MagicBand, an all-in-one device that effortlessly lets visitors to Disney World experience their own touch of magic as they explore The Magic Kingdom.

Strapped onto their wrists, these technology-enabled wristbands unlock all the experiences that visitors had pre-selected online, leaving them to enjoy their vacation from arrival to departure.

The magic begins as soon as visitors step through immigration. They wave their bands and the pick-up service appears. Luggage? Already directed to their rooms at the Disney Hotel. Tickets? The wristbands give access to the park. Before visitors arrive at the restaurant they've chosen, the kitchen gets an order to start preparing the food they've ordered. Food magically finds its way to them wherever they're seated so those hunger pangs can be settled quickly. When it is time to pay, visitors wave 'bye' and bills are "automagically" charged to their credit cards.

Disney has altered the paradigm for how it serves its patrons in a way that is directly linked to the brand experience, re-creating the "Disney Magic" for the 21st century. Today, many businesses seek to first understand the actual human needs behind a product or service, and like in Disney World, transform the overall user experience from drab to fab.

This approach is often referred to as "design thinking". Previously, companies may have approached the creation of a new product or service by running through a fixed set of requirements. However, design thinking uses an iterative, user-centred approach to uncovering both unmet and unarticulated customer needs. As we move full-speed into a world where companies must design congruent branded experiences across both their physical and digital channels, this approach will be critical to defining the future customer experience and engagement strategies. Simply stringing together a set of methods or tools is no longer sufficient in delivering a meaningful experience that seamlessly meshes the physical and digital interactions of people, processes and things. Rather, by adopting a design thinking approach, we suggest focusing on integrating four of its main building blocks.

Components of Design Thinking

Successful design thinking incorporates four principles that work best when used together and repeatedly. Performing these components in isolation-observation, ideation, prototyping and testing-misses the critical point of design thinking, which is both a journey and a mindset.

1.     Observation: Ultimately, because the end goal is to deliver a meaningful user experience, teams should aim to gain an in-depth understanding of user needs-emotionally, psychologically and functionally. This customer research is a critical first step of the process-not spending any actual time with users or target groups most often means experiences do not fill the gap in user needs and goals, resulting in wasted time and money.

 

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